It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but when looking at this photo of a wild lion with a plastic bottle in its mouth … only one phrase comes to mind — WTH?!
Seeing this, it seem that there is truly not one place left on this planet that has not been touched by humans, whether directly (plastic pollution) or indirectly (climate change). Nothing is sacred, but one thing is for certain, we’ve got to continue the fight to crush plastic. It’s time for plastic to go the way of cigarettes — farther out of reach.
While on the surface plastic might seem incredibly convenient, in reality, it is extremely harmful to the world around us. Plastic negatively impacts animals differently than humans. For one thing, we know that we shouldn’t eat plastic (obviously), but for animals, some plastic items may resemble food and they accidentally can easily swallow or consume plastic bags or bottles.
Studies have shown sea turtles and whales confusing plastic bags in the oceans for jellyfish which can be extremely detrimental to their health. Many of us have heard the stories of companion animals swallowing chew toys and the suffering that ensues, and this is essentially the same thing that happens to wildlife. We wouldn’t let our dog or cat eat a plastic bottle, would we? Gut obstruction can be fatal. It can cause blockages that cause an animal to starve to death because it cannot digest food and absorb essential nutrients.
Even animals who don’t directly consume plastics eat other animals who have eaten plastic (think food chain) and face the negative ramifications. Once in the body, plastic can cause the buildup of chemicals through the process of biomagnification. Plastic is known for absorbing chemicals and trace metals from the environment which it will leach over time – when this process happens inside of an animal’s body, that creature is subject to all sort of nasty chemicals and potential poisons.
Considering that plastic can be consumed at any level of the food chain – even by the smallest of the small, zooplankton — this spells a major impact for not just one animal, but an entire ecosystem. And humans are not exempt from this either. It is estimated that people who eat shellfish consume more than 11,000 pieces of microplastics every year – how’s that for what goes around comes around?
So while this photo of a lion with a plastic bottle in his mouth might seem bizarre and even innocent in a way, it paints a much darker story about our obsession with plastics. This material is all around bad for ecosystems, animals, humans – but each and every one of us has the power to make a difference. It’s worth sacrificing a sliver of convenience to lower the impact of plastic on ecosystems and the way to do it is by crushing plastic.
To learn how you can get started, check out these resources:
- 10 Life Hacks to Help You Cut Plastic Out of the Picture
- How Shopping Waste Free is Better for Your Health and the Planet – Plus 3 Easy Tips to Help You Do it
- 3 Fun and Friendly Ways to Cut Plastic Out of Your Life – and Help Others as Well!